Tag: Fleishman-Hillard Blogs

Brexit and Energy and Climate policy: same market, less power?

For Brits with an interest in public policy and the UK’s place in the world, 2016 will inevitably be overshadowed by the forthcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Whilst the political debate in the UK is currently dominated by issues of migration and benefits, it’s worth taking a step back and considering the potential impact of a ‘Brexit’ in specific industry and policy areas, beyond the wider issue of the UK’s access to the single European market.

EU and UK energy and climate policy are currently locked together

Energy and climate policy in particular poses some interesting questions in the case of a Brexit. Not least because of the domestic climate legislation that binds the UK to a similar emissions reductions trajectory to the EU, and the gas and electricity interconnectors that physically connect the UK to the EU single energy market. Considering the broad swathe of energy and climate policy that binds the UK to the EU, it is far from clear in the case of a Brexit which of these policies, or parts thereof, the UK would not continue to be heavily involved in.

Climate policy – domestic policy first and foremost?

Looking at climate policy, the real changes that leaving the EU would mean for the UK seem fairly limited. As noted above, the UK’s own Climate Change Act means that British governments are bound domestically to cut emissions in at least a similar trajectory to the EU’s 2020 and 2030 GHG targets. Even in the case of a Brexit, it’s difficult to see how the UK would not wish to utilise an emissions trading system (ETS) – whether it’s the EU ETS, or a separate UK system that would likely be linked to the EU one. Putting aside the impact on hard policy, there is of course the question of influence. A UK outside of the EU would conceivably have lower levels of influence on wider international climate negotiations.

Energy policy – an area that seems obvious for cross-border co-operation

Concerning energy policy, it is difficult to find areas where post-Brexit, the UK would not want to co-operate with its neighbours. Take the example of Gas security of supply. Following the 2009 gas crisis, the EU constructed a set of rules to govern emergency situations, by ensuring that countries work with their neighbours to develop emergency and preventative action plans. Presumably, this is an area that a British government outside of the EU would still wish to engage in with its neighbours in Ireland, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Of course they could try to do so outside of the EU framework, but the plans they would seek to agree with their neighbours would still be constructed under the EU mechanisms, so in all likelihood – for ease of implementation – so would the UK’s.

The internal energy market

Perhaps the major issue of course is the internal energy market where the UK has been instrumental in pushing for an increasingly liberalised energy market, greater competition and cross-border trading. An increasing proportion of the UK’s electricity capacity will be reliant on the electricity interconnectors going under the Channel and North Sea. These interconnectors will at least partially be controlled by the EU’s Third Internal market package where they are located in an EU member state, and are likely to have an increasingly important contribution to the UK’s overall capacity and security of supply. Even if the UK left the EU completely (the WTO-only option), something like 10% of our overall electricity capacity by 2020 would effectively be under the control of EU market rules. In the short-term there might be a limited impact – the interconnectors and the market would continue to function – but over a longer-period, there would be nothing to prevent a divergence of policy between the UK and the EU, potentially impacting on the functioning and the commercial viability of the interconnectors. In this scenario, a UK outside of the EU would have no control over the outcome of such policy developments.

Bearing in mind the influence of the UK in developing the single energy market so far (plus the influence of actors such as Ofgem and National Grid at an EU-level), a future EU energy market without the UK could look very different to the one developing now. As Amber Rudd, the UK’s Secretary of State for energy and climate change noted in early January on the issue of Brexit and the possibility of the UK leaving the EU, “We are probably the largest influencer in terms of setting out the plan and delivering on the energy market. So we can’t help shape it – shape it in the best way for the UK consumer and UK businesses. That would be a loss because you would be going into an area of uncertainty.”

It would also remove the UK’s voice from discussions where historically it has been very strong – a good example of this being the 2012 Offshore Drilling Safety directive, proposed following the Macondo accident. The Commission originally proposed a directly applicable regulation which could have had significant impacts on the post-Piper Alpha North Sea safety standards – which were widely viewed as the global gold standard. The UK, working with allies in the Netherlands and Denmark, ensured that instead, a directive was agreed that would enable those Member States with an effective system already to continue on that basis, avoiding unnecessary costs and disruption in the North Sea.

Renewable energy targets

Of course, there is the question of renewable energy targets. It would be difficult to argue that technology specific targets are particularly popular with any British policymakers – but given the UK’s success in 2014 in working to move the 2030 target system away from any binding national targets for renewables and energy efficiency, the UK has already achieved its aim in changing the system to a much more flexible one, so would have little to gain from being outside the 2030 system.

Policymaker to policy taker?

Either way, when thinking about Brexit and energy and climate policy there are real questions to be answered – both in terms of what the UK would seek to leave, and where the benefits would be. In both a WTO-only situation or a Swiss/Norway style solution, the UK could move from being (one of the most important) policymakers to the policy taker. Other alternative models that would allow the UK to access and influence the internal energy market whilst not being in the EU, are yet to be elaborated upon and raise serious questions of viability.


Published by Matt Hinde

3 Comments January 11, 2016

The Cybersecurity directive vs. “Less and better regulation”?    

Will EU Institutions next Monday (7 December), as it gives birth to a network and information security (NIS) directive, run the risk of fragmentation and adding more red tape in an effort to help build minimum resilience capabilities and common rules for incident reporting?

Cybersecurity is a comprehensive concept that encompasses several different dimensions of information security. It spans from consumer education to information sharing and even more complex issues such as critical information infrastructure protection and the fight against cybercrime and cyber-terrorism. It also plays a major role in defense and national security matters, yet the latter are not regulated by the EU, as competence falls exclusively with Member States. Yet when we speak about cybersecurity, the key word is “trust” – key for promoting information sharing, technical cooperation and exchange of best practices at international and at multi-stakeholder level.

The EU agenda on cybersecurity has undergone a two-step of evolution. Before 2013, the EU was merely interested in the topic and was handling it by “patch-working” sectoral legislations. The first comprehensive EU communication on cybersecurity came with the publication of the NIS directive, just months before Edward Snowden’s revelations on the US government surveillance programs.



Since then, the interest in Brussels on the subject has increased exponentially, as decision-makers have understood the need for urgent action. But as the draft bill now enters its final phase, an open question is who exactly will be obliged to report incidents, and under what conditions? Besides critical infrastructures, the EU institutions have agreed to expand the scope to “digital service providers” (e-commerce platforms, cloud computing services, search engines and others), and, while modalities for the former group are already defined, it is quite the opposite for the latter. Moreover, the issue of fragmentation appeared, as Member States obtained during the interinstitutional talks the privilege of identifying nationally which critical operators should comply with the bill.

Another issue is how this new legislation would avoid overlaps with existing rules.  While the text foresees an article on the matter, the latest Parliament proposals suggest that such duplications should be avoided for “sector-specific legislations”. It is questionable whether horizontal legislations, such as the expected general data protection regulation, would fall under this definition. The risk is that, if an incident on the network involves a data breach, the operator would have to equally report to the cyber-relevant authorities and to the data protection authorities – a mess with regards to technical and business operations, and an increased risk when it comes to compliance.

Finally, as the Commission took a new legislative shift in focusing on delivering “less and better regulation”, it is questionable to what extent a fragmented directive would fit this policy agenda. The process reminds me of a comment shared with me by a global security expert who said, “unfortunately, when it comes to cybersecurity, the interest exceeds the understanding”. I hope policymakers take the initiative to resolve these issues and prove him wrong.

Next Monday, Member States and Parliament will be responsible not only for finalizing this new bill, but also for guiding the Commission in its 2016 agenda on cybersecurity, as defined in the Digital Single Market strategy. For further details, have a look at the comprehensive DSM timeline developed by FleishmanHillard’s technology team.

Goran Gotev

2 Comments December 3, 2015


environmental conservationToday, in a post Kyoto Protocol period, the world faces the same challenge as back in 1997 – We are again facing the need to reach an international agreement to set the scene for effective action against climate change. There is however a considerable difference between today and 1997 – climate discussion has been elevated to a different level, where it has become a great concern of the majority of governments, corporations, NGOs and citizens.

Governments and climate change

Despite many disbelievers, governments have become more concerned. The emotional speech of the Philippines Delegate at the opening of COP-19 demonstrates the effects climate change could have on those most vulnerable countries. The fact that to date 25 countries[1], representing almost all continents have already submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to a new Climate Change Agreement is also a good step towards reaching an agreement. In November 2014, the US and China agreed to cap and reduce emissions, and to work together to forge an international climate agreement in 2015 – yet another major step forward. Last but not least, the EU agreed on a binding target of at least a 40% domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. Clearly, governments are concerned.

What is the role of business?

Now, let’s turn to the businesses. Have they become more concerned about climate change? I do believe so. At the end of July 2015, the White House launched the American Business Act on Climate Change. Under this scheme, each participating company has announced new pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and increase low-carbon investments, deploy clean energy and take actions to build a more sustainable business. As part of the American Business Act, Alcoa pledged 50% less GHG emissions in the US by 2025 (in comparison to 2005 levels), while Coca-Cola has pledged to reduce carbon footprint by 25% by 2020. Other companies, such as Apple, Golden Sachs, Google and Microsoft have pledged to use 100% renewable energy.

Furthermore, the statistics about the investments in clean energy and low carbon development speak for themselves. Out of the $359 billion invested in 2012, 62% came from private investments ($224 billion) versus 38% ($135 billion) from public investments.

Having business on board is therefore key, both in terms of changing corporate behaviour as well as in terms of securing future investments in low carbon economy.

You, me… us, the citizens

Source: Yale

Source: Yale

According to a Yale-led survey of 119 countries, a staggering 40% of the globe’s population has never heard of climate change, or its effects. This rises to more than 65% in some developing countries, like Egypt, Bangladesh, and India, according to Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. Interestingly, the research showed that in the U.S. views on climate change were strongly linked to their politics.

Especially in developed countries, the awareness of climate change is high. For instance, in September 2014, an estimated 400,000 people marched through midtown Manhattan as part of the People’s Climate March. With more than a million of activists around the globe, the role of civil society pressuring governments, pushing for new laws, policies or strategies on climate change is increasing. “Many of even the world’s poorest countries now have active civil society coalitions that work on climate change, and they are increasingly influential,” according to Dr Hannah Reid of IIED, an editor of a report Southern voices on climate policy choices:  civil society advocacy on climate change. Civil society is becoming better organised, cooperates more with governments and is better trained in communicating with the media.

New voices…

Air pollution in Paris, Photo: Reuters

Air pollution in Paris, Photo: Reuters

With 4,416 cities in the world with a population of over 150,000, cities are becoming an important voice in the climate change discussion. There are several initiatives aimed at mayors which particularly tackle climate change: the World Mayors Council on Climate Change, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, Mayors Adapt and many others. At the end of July 2015, dozens of environmentally friendly mayors met with Pope Francis in Vatican to commit to reducing global warming and helping the urban poor deal with its effects. It is perhaps one of the most important initiatives of Vatican, following the release of the landmark environment encyclical ahead of the climate negotiations in Paris.

 What next?

As Nobel Laureate Al Gore stated during his last Davos speech, in order to reach an agreement in Paris in 2015 there needs to be political will across the globe, and this political will is a “renewable resource”. There is therefore an obvious need for this political will to be “backed” by the support from the industry, civil society and ordinary citizens.

With the Paris COP21 climate change negotiations in December 2015 approaching, we will see more voices present in the discussion. Whether we will be able to reach an agreement or not, climate change has become a concern for many. The feeling of concern for the future, as well as a more positive feeling of the fact that we are building a cleaner world, will be a major stimulus behind the negotiations.

12 August 2015

Ewa Abramiuk Lété is a public affairs and communications specialist who supports clients in the energy, transport and utilities sector. All above stated opinions are hers.

[1] status 11 August

5 Comments August 12, 2015

We did it again! FleishmanHillard wins the EPACA essay competition 2 years in row

Every year the European Public Affairs Consultancies’ Association (EPACA) organises an essay contest for young Public Affairs professionals to discuss a topic of relevance to the industry. This year, EPACA wanted to know participants’ ideas on how to improve public trust in EU public affairs. A question key to Public Affairs professionals and which makes us rethink our relation to and responsibility towards a critical actor in European politics: the European people.

After all, EU citizens remain the pillar of the European Union. Their voice, whether it is dimmed or amplified by their national and European representatives, remains the fundamental source of legitimacy for any politician and stakeholder involved in politics. Indeed, without a certain level of approval from the European general public, individuals or organisations who want to impact on EU affairs loses significant support and credibility; and the more those are lost at the bottom, the more limited the effect at the top will be. Hence why public trust in EU public affairs is so critical, and why it is essential for businesses to keep thinking about what it takes to ensure and improve it. Our research executive Anne Sauviat was the winner of the EPACA Essay Competition and provided some answers to this challenging but crucial question.


How to improve public trust in EU public affairs?

 To what extent are EU public affairs public? Which ‘public’ is actually encompassed under such appellation? These are important questions when thinking about the issue of public trust in EU public affairs for a reason: trust comes from a feeling of inclusion, which itself encompasses both a physical and symbolic dimension.

Apathy and skepticism have increasingly taken over public opinion on European politics. This mistrust is notably due to Europeans feeling alienated from a political environment and process they expect to be integral to. Yet, many perceive European politics as unreachable and incomprehensible conversations between political, economic and industrial elites. In this context, public affairs consultancies mainly appear as illegitimate intermediaries influencing EU politicians for private stakeholders ‘ interests.

Thus, building trust in EU public affairs necessitates overcoming the negative connotation they often assume. The notion and activity of lobbying should be brought back to its original meaning and purpose: providing decision-makers with practical information on topics they are not necessarily fully aware of, and informing them of the demands from the various groups of the civil society they represent. European public affairs would be better acknowledged if they were given a more ‘positive’ definition and if their relevance for both public and private entities were promoted.

Public trust also relies on the transparency of the information and services exchanged by the various actors (in)directly involved in the European political process. Giving accessibility to such data helps the public better understand and confide in the reliability of politically-invested individuals and organisations.

Finally, beyond the status of witnesses, European citizens should be more extensively and actively included in the public affairs debates. The new methods of communication and wide range of social media can significantly contribute to the ‘re-democratisation’  of European public affairs and their relative re-appropriation by the general public.

Anne Sauviat

1 Comment May 28, 2015

A selection of recent posts on FH blogs

In my post A quick tour through the FH blogosphere, I shared some articles from other FHers writing on their own or team blogs. Here’s what some of them have been up to so far this year.

First of all we start by welcoming back James Stevens to Brussels. Having originally pioneered this blog back in the day, James has been in the Washington DC office for the past year and writing his own blog Bubble to Beltway. Here is his last post about the influence of interest groups in the legislative process and how more measurement is needed in Public Affairs – What I want is more data.

Which ties nicely with another colleague concerned with measurement from across the pond: Don Bartholomew, or MetricsMan, writes an excellent summary of the lessons learned in social media for 2011. Not strictly PA, but knowing what to measure in the digital realm is absolutely essential whatever the communications discipline, so definitely worth a read.

Steffen writes about reaching decision makers online, outlines ten key points that resonate with audiences when he presents on digital and PA to various audiences, and describes why campaigning more widely than the government relations comfort zone is important in a post entitled Campaigning to achieve PA goals, pay heed to the constituent consumer.

Outside the communications and public affairs arena, Michael Berendt gives his perspective on current affairs, specifically how Libya’s fate will have a major impact on Europe.

And of course I cannot sign off without welcoming FH Amsterdam to the blogging fold. They have been going for a couple of months now, writing about the digital and public affairs intersection. Definitely worth the Google translate!


Leave a Comment March 16, 2011

A Quick Tour Through the FH Blogosphere

Whilst we’d like to think that Public Affairs 2.0 was the only blog worth reading when it comes to the digital/public affairs/PR sphere it’s not the case at all! There are quite a few excellent bloggers at FH who blog in both a personal and professional capacity, and we thought we’d bring you a few samples once in a while, from Brussels to across the Atlantic.

Firstly staying in house; some of our regular contributors to Public Affairs 2.0 also have their own blogs, one of these is our Digital Strategist, Steffen Thejll-Moller.  He writes here about the struggle to implement digital in public affairs, remember: don’t blame it all on the old fogeys.

Liva Judic is based a little further afield in our Paris office and describes herself as a ‘social media addict’.  Her blog Merrybubbles is a regular upload of all things interesting and digi.  One of her great articles is about the digital divide around the world and how mobile technology is being innovatively implemented in unexpected places.

James Stevens, whilst technically no longer a Euroblogger, now offers a unique European perspective on the goings on in Washington DC. His article ‘Neither the US nor the EU wants to kill its citizens’ takes a look at the transatlantic relationship in reality, especially in light of regulatory convergence. Whilst in his most recent article examines the line between government relations and public affairs, and how we can learn from each other.

But of course blogs take many different formats and not just personal perspectives. The FH London office clearly translates in-depth briefings into accessible blog format. For example, see their outline of the recent UK government’s spending review.

So I hope you enjoy sampling a little taste of where else the digital discussion about public affairs and public relations is taking place.


2 Comments November 25, 2010

The UK’s first digital election campaign?

The following post is from Simon Benson of our London team

There has been much written in the UK media that this will be the first truly digital general election campaign. This is true to an extent, with the numbers of blogs and websites devoting themselves to politics and the election having increased widely since the last General Election in 2005 – it is hard to believe that neither Facebook nor Twitter existed the last time Britons went to the polls. So it was perhaps somewhat surprising that one of those bloggers, Iain Dale, told a packed Fleishman-Hillard London breakfast event last week that in his view, digital content and information will not dramatically influence the outcome on election day.

Dale’s analysis was that initiatives such as myconservatives.com (a tool which enables local campaigns to recruit volunteers and collect small donations) were launched too late by the Conservatives and should have been introduced earlier in the election cycle in order to have a real impact.  Labour strategists are keen to point out that their version –  membersnet has been operational for several years now, where initiatives such as the phone bank (where members can phone other members and voters using  an online database) have been successfully deployed.  However, such online phone banks are merely digitally advanced versions of more traditional campaign methods –  i.e, a compliment to the long established tactics of canvassing and cold calling rather than a digital step change.

Dale also suggested that the UK should look to political systems closer to its own parliamentary democracy such as those in Europe or Australia for inspiration, as opposed to the vast Presidential election campaigning in the USA.  He’s right, but not only because of the difference in style (and resources) but also because the digital elements of that election were built on a grassroots campaign for change – in the UK, there is no such instinct, with voters turned off from politics by the expenses scandal and no great desire shown for either Brown or Cameron.

Where the bloggers and political websites can be influential is in their attempts to create news agendas either as virals or in the traditional media. After some caution, journalists are beginning to report on stories created by bloggers, with Guido Fawkes having claimed senior scalps, including Peter Hain MP and Brown’s former press adviser Damian McBride.  However, it is worth remembering that the UK’s biggest political scandal this year – MPs expenses – was uncovered  not by the new media, but by a very old and traditional title – the Daily Telegraph.

Recent episodes such as spoof versions of David Cameron posters have perhaps best shown how virals can attempt influence. Its owner, Clifford Singer, posted spoofs of the Tories’ main billboard campaign on his website but realised the idea could grow when he almost immediately started receiving hundreds of similar versions from viewers. Within days, a simple website was created which allowed anyone to ‘invent’ their own professionally completed versions of the Tories’ campaign posters.  The Labour MP and blogger Tom Watson MP has said about the viral: “MyDavidCameron.com is an example of people taking an idea and reusing it to add to a discussion and make a point. Political party managers might not like it, but it has given election billboards new relevance and interest for the forthcoming general election. It is making electioneering interesting, unpredictable and, dare I say, more fun.”

So although the internet will not control this campaign entirely, it is already challenging political strategists, campaign advertising executives and candidates to think in new ways and to respond to challenges that they would never have envisaged just a few years ago.


You can check out more about the UK elections at the F-H London blog.

2 Comments March 19, 2010

What PR types can learn from Brussels’ shrinking press corps

The Economist’s Charlemagne, Libération’s Jean Quatremer and communications consultant Michael Malherbe, all blogged this week about the diminishing numbers of accredited journalists in Brussels.

There are plenty of PR types who will be using this fairly seismic shift as an excuse to our bosses or clients when our story doesn’t get covered. But the press corps could double, and a press release that merely ”welcomes” a Brussels announcement on an issue that is irrelevant to most, while at the same time  “applauds”  the “Commission” (cos there is only one “Commission” in the world, right?) will NEVER get picked up. A  few years back, there was an infamous Brussels website that named and shamed such press releases.

The monster that the Europe correspondent has to grapple with has always been multi-headed. Having to file stories on data privacy, anti-trust, food labelling and customs in quick succession is no joke. We PR types need to be of much more use to journalists –  bringing them easy access to real world experts and those with influential opinions on issues that matter to – or even entertain – their readers and their editors.

With fewer journalist around (yes, there are still 700 but you get what I’m saying), we should take more time to get to know them.  And not (alone) by taking them for mad nights out, but by actually reading what they write, knowing their pet subjects, knowing their style and that of their editor.

Charlemagne makes the excellent point that journalists should move from Brussels out to the trenches every few years.  So should all of us.


1 Comment March 18, 2010

FixHousingFirst: Public Affairs Campaign of Year at PR Week awards

News from the US late last week that our Washington D.C. colleagues have picked up a gong at the US PR Week awards for FixHousingFirst campaign.  Congratulations to Pat Cleary, Bill Black, Ben Clark and everyone else involved. We don’t do the work for the awards, but receiving one is pretty special anyway.

In summary, the team helped a bunch of home builders build a broad-based coalition to advocate for federal funding for home-buyers as part of the economic recovery package. The novelty? Much of the coalition building and advocating made use of those digital tools we’ve been banging on about over here for some time. The results? Everywhere you go in the US you can’t move for talk of the federal tax credit for home-buyers.

You can read the  Fix Housing First Case Study here. And below is Pat speaking about the programme late last year at the European Public Affairs Day here in Brussels.



A further article from the UK’s Communicate Magazine talking about the campaign with a wider view of what we do here in Europe, can be found here.


Leave a Comment March 15, 2010

Twongressions to lose Democrats seats? Study on Twitter in Congress

"Republican Party Elephant" logo
Image via Wikipedia

Our colleague Mark Senak’s study on the use of Twitter by members of the US Congress has been making some waves in the media across the Atlantic in recent days. The main headline being that the Republicans are beating the Democrats in their use of the tool. We shall have to see what this means when it comes to the mid-terms.


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Leave a Comment January 15, 2010

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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients.

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